I must admit that I’m a huge fan of the Hitman series. I loved all of the games, but you probably know that because I reviewed at least one of them on this very blog. When I heard that the movie was being made, I knew it was going to be bad. But I also knew I will have to watch it out of the love for the series.
As expected, the story from the game was scrapped completely and re-written from scratch. The only elements that remained intact were cosmetic. So the main character is still known only as 47, he is still bold, has a bar code tattoo on the back of his head, and wears his black suit, and a red tie. He also gets his contracts via laptop emblazoned with the trademark lily logo just like in the games. There are also couple of shots that tried to mimic the 3rd person perspective view from the game.That’s about it. Everything else was changed.
Agent 47 is no longer a genetically engineered clone, but an orphan trained from a very early age by the “Organization” which is no longer the ICA we know from the games. No recurring characters such as the unfortunate Agent Smith, or Diana Burnwood. In fact I thought Diana will be the female lead in this movie, but instead we got a bitchy, foul mouthed prostitute who just can’t seem to keep her clothes on and keeps interfering,
and getting in the way.
They also failed to capitalize on some of the very memorable locations and settings from the game. Some of my favorite were the Hell/Heaven Masquerade club, the Opera House, The Casino and the Mardi Grass. This was a perfect movie to show our hero traveling all over the world trying to find clues by performing strategic hits in various exotic locations. Instead, the whole move takes place in Russia and our locales are: gray and dirty Moscow Streets, Moscow train station, rural Russian back roads, and a Russian Orthodox temple. Sort of bland and unimpressive for what it could have been.
I admit, the whole super-human clone bit was always a bit cheesy so I can see how someone could want to remove it. It worked in the games, but perhaps it would not work on the big screen. But then again, if you are making adaptation of a successful franchise why mess around with the plot? It’s not like someone will accuse you of bad writing because you were simply faithful to the original. You can still create dynamic dialog, and memorable characters while working within the framework of the original plot. But this is Hollywood, and the temptation to remake the story to cater to the lowest common denominator seems to be irresistible.
The usual formula is to take a successful property and turn it into a blockbuster action flick with lots of shooting, explosions and mandatory gratuitous nudity without regards for the theme, tone, and mood of the original.
The Hitman movie is precisely that – it is Agent 47 meets Mission Impossible. Over the top action, extensive slow motion shoot-out scenes with high body count, and prolonged martial arts sequences are basically the “meat” of the movie. Very little is left from the original game play experience which awarded stealth, subtlety and blending into the background. In the beginning we can see him perform a couple of stealth kills, but that ends abruptly when the tables are turned and our hero is exposed. From from that moment, till the and his primary modus operandi seems to be full frontal charge. Scene after scene we see him burst into one place or another, whip out his guns and then keep shooting until no one is left alive.
The portrayal of Agent 47 is not true to the original either. In the games the protagonist was cold, detached, cynical unflinching and extremely professional. He seemed world weary, and while capable of good and compassion he never let these things interfere with his job, or compromise his safety. Timothy Olyphant’s take on this character comes close to the mark, but misses by a considerable margin. He sort of got the look, and some of the mannerisms – and sometimes he is able to pull off the classic 47 “no bullshit, just business” demeanor. Unfortunately most of the time his warm and somewhat youthful and energetic personality shines through. In fact, 47 seems to be written to reflect that – as sort of an innocent, misunderstood and socially maladjusted personality. He is actually sort of a nerd incapable of normal social interactions and very uncomfortable around women. In the very first scene we see him, he gets hit on by some ditzy blond who tells him he should not put ice in whiskey, and he just runs away like a school boy.
While the games never really show 47 being intimate with a woman it can be somewhat justified. The only time we see our hero is during or between missions. And unlike James Bond and other action heroes modeled after him, 47 doesn’t mix business with pleasure. When he is on a job, he has no time to fuck around (both in literal, and figurative sense of the word). In the movie however any sexual advances from the opposite sex seem to make him very uncomfortable, and he reacts very awkwardly every time. His overall attitude towards sexuality sort of reminds me of the uneasiness with which Dexter approaches the same topic. I do not agree with this interpretation though. I don’t think the real 47 would ever have to resort to using a sedative to “escape” from under a half naked chick desperately trying to undress him. I have no clue what the point of that scene was but my brother agreed that it made the protagonist look totally gay.
If I was to describe the Hitman movie in one sentence, I would say it is a light hearted action flick about awkward, sexually ambiguous, 40 year old virgin killing machine with a heart of gold. Or in other words, complete departure from the source and a total waste of time. This just supports my theory, that movies based on video games totally suck. I have yet to find a single exception to this rule.
[tags]hitman, hitman the movie, movies, review[/tags]